Google Music, NFC early focal points for I/O conference

by Kristen Nicole

Google (GOOG) has been rather blatant about its long-term intentions around launching a music service, and its recent weeks of developments has culminated this week, with Google’s plans to introduce the long-awaited cloud music player at the I/O conference. Kicking off today in San Francisco, the service will be called Music Beta by Google, and will enable users to upload their personal collections to the web and access songs via Android devices, as well as computers.

Sweet & sour notes for Google Music project

The biggest drawback for Google’s cloud-based music program, however, is the resilience from music labels. Lacking a full suite of licenses from the major music labels means Google’s service will be limited, keeping users from sharing songs with friends, or purchasing music directly from Google. While it will make Music Beta less competitive with Apple (AAPL) out of the gate, it’s not stopping Google from building a business around cloud-based music.

“A couple of major labels were not as collaborative, and frankly were demanding a set of business terms that were unreasonable and did not allow us to build a product or a business on a sustainable business,” said Jamie Rosenberg, director of digital content for Android, in a New York Times article. “So we’re not necessarily relying on the partnerships that have proven difficult.”

NFC & Ice Cream expectations

While music is a focal point for the Google I/O conference this week, Near Field Communication is getting some attention as well. Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, first mentioned the possible integration of NFC chips with Android devices last year, Google having since released its plans to support the technology in Android 2.3 software and the Nexus S device. This year brings more partners, including Foursquare and Hashable, both of which are expected to demonstrate the new technology at Google I/O this week. Moving beyond mobile payments, Foursquare’s integration centers around “tap-ins,” a new take on the check-in process, while Hashable plans to use NFC technology to swap contact information and check-in to the same activity with someone, like #dinner or #meeting.

Even with Google progressing with its music and NFC initiatives, it’s still the developers that really matter when it comes to the Google I/O event. Expectations around the newest Google Android Ice Cream release are heightened for Google I/O attendees, seeking a balance with the mobile ecosystem that’s extending itself into the tablet arena. It’s an important step for Android developers, as they find themselves managing a portfolio of apps across varied devices. Google’s presumably dedicating the first day of the I/O conference to Android, so developers are hopeful for today's developments.